Aviation-related injury morbidity and mortality: Data from U.S. Health Information Systems

Susan P. Baker, Joanne E. Brady, Dennis F. Shanahan, Guohua Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Introduction: Information about injuries sustained by survivors of airplanecrashes is scant, although some information is available on fatalaviation-related injuries. Objectives of this study were to explore thepatterns of aviation-related injuries admitted to U.S. hospitals and relatethem to aviation deaths in the same period. Methods: The HealthcareCost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS)contains information for approximately 20% of all hospital admissionsin the United States each year. We identified patients in the HCUP NISwho were hospitalized during 2000-2005 for aviation-related injuriesbased on the International Classification of Diseases, 9 th Revision, codesE840 - E844. Injury patterns were also examined in relation to informationfrom multiple-cause-of-death public-use data files 2000-2005. Results:Nationally, an estimated 6080 patients in 6 yr, or 1013 admissionsannually (95% confidence interval 894-1133), were hospitalized foraviation-related injuries, based on 1246 patients in the sample. The averagehospital stay was 6.3 d and 2% died in hospital. Occupants of noncommercialaircraft accounted for 32% of patients, parachutists for 29%;occupants of commercial aircraft and of unpowered aircraft each constituted11%. Lower-limb fracture was the most common injury in eachcategory, constituting 27% of the total, followed by head injury (11%),open wound (10%), upper extremity fracture, and internal injury (9%).Among fatalities, head injury (38%) was most prominent. An average of753 deaths occurred annually; for each death there were 1.3 hospitalizations.Conclusions: Aviation-related injuries result in approximately1000 hospitalizations each year in the United States, with an in-hospitalmortality rate of 2%. The most common injury sustained by aviationcrash survivors is lower-limb fracture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1005
Number of pages5
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Accident
  • Aviation
  • Fracture
  • Injury
  • Lower limb
  • Mortality
  • Parachuting
  • Survivors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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